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Sectoral social dialogue - Maritime transport

Social partners

Employees' organisations Employers' organisations
European Transport Workers' Federation European Community Shipowners' Associations

European shipping controls more than 40% of the world fleet and has the most important maritime clusters in the world. Shipping transports over 90% of European external trade and over 41% of intra-EU transport. The number of EU seafarers employed on EU-flagged ships has fallen rapidly in recent years and a minority of the world's shipping now sails under EU-country flags.

EU regulation has opened up national markets to competition. The high level of globalisation and the use of "flags of convenience" (of countries which are far more attractive to ship-owners than Europe in terms of taxation, social legislation and safety or environmental standards), present serious challenges for the sector.

To meet these challenges, the EU has devised a global strategy to make the EU fleet competitive again, by means of "positive measures", and to improve on-board safety and environmental protection through strict enforcement of international standards within the EU, to ensure a level playing field for those carrying goods by sea between EU ports.

Focus areas

ETF and ECSA are currently focusing on:

  • the implementation of EU directive 2009/13/EC implementing the Council's autonomous agreement on the ILO Convention on maritime labour, the improvement of seafarer's recruitment and training and health and safety in the maritime transport.

Activities and meetings

Check the library entries for this sectoral social dialogue committee


  • Agreement concluded by ECSA and ETF on the Maritime Labour Convention (2008)

See also "European sectoral social dialogue – recent developments" (2010 brochure).